Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
TITLE: Endless Wanderings
By Noreen Ophoff
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In August it has been alright sleeping out under the stars. As October waned into November, here in the Midwest, nights were cold. Parents and three youngsters huddled together on one sleeping bag, but bone-chilling cold permeated their bodies by morning. Taper tried spreading leaves or pine needles underneath their bedclothes, but didn't notice a real difference.
Meals became whatever she or Dave could get as a handout. Sometimes Taper wondered if Dave stole food, but she didn't ask.
The three offspring were Paul, Maddie and Suze. The two oldest looked like their father, lean, blond and inquisitive every minute. “Curious.” Dave said. “Nosey.” intoned their mother.
Suze was like her Mom. She was quiet until she was rattled, then she voiced her opinions loudly. Taper smiled at her clone. They had the same reddish wavy hair, and eyes like green marbles. The other kids had straight, short, yellow hair, like Dave. Whenever Dave got up and paced while thinking, Paul and Maddie sprang up to pace with him. To Taper it was an irritating practice. To Taper, everything lately was irritating.
Dave had stopped looking for regular work. He took an odd job now and then, but they had nothing set aside and nowhere to call their own. Taper worried constantly, and when she fretted, an old habit came back. She scratched one leg until it bled. Then she hid the fact as best she could, by sitting on the injured leg.
On December twenty-third, while on a walk when Dave was working with sheep on a nearby farm, Tap found an abandoned shed. It had well-insulated walls and even carpeting on the floor. This would be their new place to stay. She hauled in a wool blanket to supplement the sleeping bag. The kids played tag outside while Taper dusted down cobwebs and enjoyed moments by herself.
Dave returned with six ham sandwiches in a big shopping bag, along with a dozen powdered-sugar doughnuts. It was a wonderful meal, although the wind howled and snow was falling.
It wasn't a mansion on a city hill, or a cabin in a cozy woods, but the weathered shed was a haven for a homeless family. What is home anyway? Isn't it a place to be with your family and feel safe? Maybe there wasn't food in a larder or definite plans for next week, but for December 24th and December 25th, the Retrievers were happy, fed and warm, snuggled together in a heap, on warm blankets. Home is the journey's end after endless wanderings.
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